James Brown expanded on his "Art in Architecture" talk from earlier in the day at his Dec. 7 afternoon breakout session. The co-principal (with James Gates) of Public Architecture and Planning in San Diego, Brown projected an easy demeanor and sense of humor that appealed to his audience (and came in handy during an A/V snafu).
Brown showed images of many of his firm’s projects, including a small multifamily building in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. Brown and Gates designed, developed, and built it, along with a group of other architect/developers working on the same block. From this much-published project, Brown said, he and Gates learned that “you really have to know the codes” in order to navigate them more nimbly. He also talked about incorporating found objects into the building.
During Brown’s Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, he began work on a pro-bono binational park near the U.S.-Mexico border, and he showed images of that project in his session. Throughout his talk, he interspersed slides of buildings with photos of the firm’s seven-person staff. Some additional projects presented included a custom house for a graphic designer that blurs the division between indoors and outdoors; another custom home in Missoula, Mont.; a multifamily building in San Diego with an innovative, double-layer building skin; and a student center at UC-San Diego.
Brown, Gates, and their team also are serving as the local architects for Zaha Hadid’s first house in North America. Brown showed the audience a few renderings of the swoopy oceanfront residence. Public art is a major area of interest for the firm, so he included images of installations at San Francisco International Airport and the University of Oregon.